The anthology series featured stories of mystery, terror and suspense, and its tongue-in-cheek introductions were in sharp contrast to shows like Suspense and The Whistler. The early 1940s programs opened with Raymond Edward Johnson introducing himself as, "Your host, Raymond," in a mocking sardonic voice. A spooky melodramatic organ score (played by Lew White) punctuated Raymond's many morbid jokes and playful puns. Raymond's closing was an elongated "Pleasant dreeeeaams, hmmmmm?" His tongue-in-cheek style and ghoulish relish of his own tales became the standard for many such horror narrators to follow, from fellow radio hosts like Ernest Chappell (on Wyllis Cooper's later series, Quiet, Please) and Maurice Tarplin (on The Mysterious Traveler).
When Johnson left the series in May 1945 to serve in the Army, he was replaced by Paul McGrath, who did not keep the "Raymond" name and was known only as "Your Host" or "Mr. Host" (Berry Kroeger had substituted earlier for a total of four episodes). McGrath was a Broadway actor who turned to radio for a regular income. Beginning in 1945, Lipton Tea sponsored the series, pairing first Raymond and then McGrath with cheery commercial spokeswoman Mary Bennett (aka the "Tea Lady"), whose blithesome pitches for Lipton Tea contrasted sharply with the macabre themes of the stories. She primly chided the host for his trademark dark humor and creepy manner.
The Creaking Door: The program's familiar and famed audio trademark was the eerie creaking door which opened and closed the broadcasts. Himan Brown got the idea from a door in the basement that "squeaked like Hell." The door sound was actually made by a rusty desk chair. The program did originally intend to use a door, but on its first use, the door did not creak. Undaunted, Brown grabbed a nearby chair, sat in it and turned, causing a hair-raising squeak. The chair was used from then on as the sound prop. On at least one memorable occasion, a staffer innocently repaired and oiled the chair, thus forcing the sound man to mimic the squeak orally.
Guest Stars: Its campy comedy notwithstanding, the stories were usually effective little chillers, mixing horror and humor in equal doses. Memorable episodes included "Terror by Night" (September 18, 1945) and an adaptation of "The Tell-Tale Heart" (August 3, 1941). The latter starred Boris Karloff, who was heard regularly in the first season, starring in more than 15 episodes and returning sporadically thereafter. Other established stars in the early years included Mary Astor, Helen Hayes, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas, Claude Rains, Frank Sinatra, and Orson Welles. Most of the lead and supporting players were stalwarts of New York radio. These included Santos Ortega, Mercedes McCambridge, Berry Kroeger, Lawson Zerbe, Arnold Moss, Leon Janney, and Mason Adams. Players like Richard Widmark, Everett Sloane, Burgess Meredith, Agnes Moorehead, Ken Lynch, and Anne Seymour, also found fame via the Inner Sanctum Mysteries.
Out of more than 500 programs broadcast, only about 200 remain in circulation, sometimes minus dates or titles.
Information taken from www.wikipedia.org
From the Old Time Radio Researchers Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
This is the Single Episodes Page. The Certified Set includes extras not found here. It is located at OTRR Certified Set. This Single Episodes page is provided in case you want to sample the shows.Note that in many cases, file names have been modified from the original OTRR names to conform to archive.org naming requirements.
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OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that is Certified Accurate indicates that all the episodes are properly identified and labeled but that the series does not contain all known extant episodes.
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February 7, 2018 Subject:
I really wasn't expecting to enjoy that as much as I did. This episode really brought out my love for mystery stories like the ones I used to read as a kid. The suspense was great and the way the story was crafted really set the scene and made me use my imagination. It surprises me that all that was used to create this story were some sound effects, a couple different characters, and some great dialogue. The only thing I didn't like were some of the creepy sound effects and the narrator was funny but made me feel a little uncomfortable. However, neither of those things bothered me too much to not enjoy the story.
February 5, 2018 Subject:
The Smile of Death
I really enjoy suspense and this podcast did not disappoint. What I didn’t like was that it left me wanting more. I was confused when the dialogue stopped because I felt like the story was still developing when the last lines were said. I really enjoyed the actors themselves and the tone of the voices with each character because they matched exactly with the aura of their intentions. The title was what got me interested in this particular episode but I feel like the smile described in the podcast was not developed enough to be the main descriptor. The smile was scary, yes, but it was only mentioned at the end and nothing came of it. What does the smile indicate? More than just that the man is haunting them. Why is he smiling? If I were him I would have a frown because the wife clearly does not love him and the man who gave him the room was completely rude. Does he have a trick up his sleeve? I’m clearly just disappointed with the ending.
March 29, 2017 Subject:
Mystery Playhouse question
To answer the question about Mystery Playhouse, it was an AFRS program that featured edited radio programs (with an intro and outro from a host) from a variety of programs including Inner Sanctum, Mr. and Mrs. North, Nick Carter, Mr. District Attorney and others. Some episodes of OTR only exist in the AFRS Mystery Playhouse form.
The Mystery Playhouse was an Armed Forces Radio (AFRS) that took programs like Inner Sanctum, Molle Mysteries, Mr & Mrs North, etc. and rebroadcast them for the Armed Forces with the commercials removed. The time that was used by the commercials would be used for the intro by someone like Sergeant X. Some would have a preview of the next episode aired.
The Inner Sanctum episodes that were also Mystery Playhouse episodes would have the Inner Sanctum intro by Raymond or the Host.
February 6, 2016 Subject:
A rare episode also at archive.org
October 31, 2015 Subject:
Can anyone explain to me why The Mystery Playhouse is introducing some of these shows? I have some mp3's of Mystery Playhouse and that show quite often introduced episodes of other shows like Mr. and Mrs. North, Sam Spade, and a few others I can't remember. I'm quite confused over this because Mystery Playhouse wasn't like AFRS as it did broadcast shows that weren't episodes from other OTR shows and were either classic short stories or original stories written just for Mystery Playhouse. I'd really appreciate either a repose or just an answer on my confusion. Thanks! Inner Sanctum is one of my favorite OTR series and it's so awesome to hear 149 episodes in one place!
January 27, 2015 Subject:
Does anyone know the piece of music at the end of a few episodes?
A few of these fun stories that are recorded here were re-broadcast over the Armed Forces Radio Service, like "Deathwatch in Boston." After the show there is an interesting musical piece that I am puzzled about.
Does anyone know what the name of this ending music might be?
The program itself is great fun and is best listened to in the evening!
September 3, 2012 Subject:
What happened to the Bromo Seltzer commercials
In looking over these programs, I could only find a few with the original Bromo Seltzer commercials. The one in particular was "The Vengeful Corpse" (1949). When Lipton Tea sponsored the program, the recordings were duplicated for copyright purposes. These recording have since found their way into the hands of collectors. The programs sponsored by Bromo Seltzer were re-released as AFRS recordings and the commercials were edited out.
March 20, 2012 Subject:
Oh what fun it is to hear a creepy story
These are a great listen! Lots of fun, and Raymond's horrible puns make it all the better.
March 15, 2012 Subject:
Raymond himself is worth the price of admission alone!
a landmark series for suspense and horror - and Raymond's hosting, with his ghoulish puns, are the icing on the cake.Many of the great actors of OTR can be heard on this series throughout its run. And while more of these are mystery than horror, there are suspenseful moments galore - though that doesn't mean there are no good frights along the way! A highly recommended classic.
March 13, 2012 Subject:
Great Quality, Yet Two Probable Errors:
Is Really 52-08-24 No Rest for the Dead AFRS
Is Really 48-03-29 Lady Killer [Homicidal Maniac] AFRS